Alfred North Whitehead's 'The Aims Of Education'

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The Oxford Dictionary defines education as a process of receiving or giving systematic instruction and acquiring a body of knowledge while being educated. Education in its general definition defines a form of learning that takes place within a person in which knowledge, skills, values, and beliefs are transferred from one to another. However, when most people think of education, they think of a formal environment where information is being transferred from a person of authority, such as a teacher or a professor, to another person like a student. The transfer of information does not define an education. Information is useless unless we are able to make sense of it. We can then produce something from the raw information to form knowledge, which …show more content…
Inert ideas are ideas that halt inspiration and creativity while forcing dead ideas in students instead of expanding and nourishing actual, living students. Whitehead suggests that the best education would be the extinction of inert ideas, where instead of giving raw and useless information to students, they are able to make their ideas live and transform them into passionate and inspiring beliefs and perceptions. Ideas come alive to students when they are able to make sense of them and relate them to past experiences. Whitehead explains that when individuals are able to create a relationship between ideas learned with experiences they have lived, they are able to create a lens for examination and analysis where a more meaningful and comprehensive understanding of the world that they are living in is formed. In the end, this essay will examine how inert ideas can be harmful by giving examples of school practices in our current system that generate inert ideas in students in terms of curriculum and pedagogy. Furthermore, I will give examples of personal experiences where I have accumulated meaningless knowledge through schooling and how this can be changed so it is not to happen …show more content…
1). Where ideas should generate curiosity and imagination, inert ideas stop any momentum that happens in the brain. They halt any creativity and suspend thoughts that could lead to other significant ideas. Everything that has been good in the world, such as technological advances, innovation, and great discoveries has been an attempt to protest against inert ideas (Whitehead, 1967, p. 2). So why would schools develop an educational system that “educates” students based on inert ideas? To my understanding, it is simply the ignorance of human kind. The curriculum in the education system explains not to teach many subjects, but to teach what you teach thoroughly (Whitehead, 1967, p. 2). This will result in a disconnection of ideas, which leads to merely useless and raw information floating around in a student’s brain, not being able to make sense of anything or to make connections with other information. This can be harmful as it can disconnect the child from understanding the lessons and topics, and even understanding content in general. These inert ideas cause students not only to dislodge a connection between life and lessons, but it causes a nonexistent joy of discovery. This process can be seen when students are not engaged in the classroom and lack attention to the topics. Or, when a student does not understand

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